« ElőzőTovább »
If some proud brother eyed me with disdain,
Or scornful sister with her sweeping train,
Thy gentle accents softened all my pain.
For thee I mourn ; and mourn myself in thee,
The wretched source of all this misery!
The fate 1 caused forever I bemoan;
Sad Helen has no friend now thou art gone!
Thro' Troy's wide streets abandoned shall I roam!
In Troy deserted, as abhorred at home!'
So spoke the fair, with sorrow-streaming eye ;
Distressful beauty melts each stander-by;
On all around the infectious sorrow grows ;
But Priam checked the sorrow as it rose.
• Perform, ye Trojans ! what the rites require,
And fell the forests for a funeral pyre;
Twelve days, nor foes, nor secret ambush dread,
Achilles grants these honours to the dead.'
He spoke ; and at his word, the Trojan train,
Their mules and oxen harness to the wain,
Pour through the gates, and felled from Ida's crown,
Rolled back the gathered forests to the town.
These toils continue nine succeeding days,
And high in air a sylvan structure raise.
But when the tenth fair morn began to shine,
Forth to the pile was borne the man divine,
And placed aloft : while all with streaming eyes
Beheld the flames and rolling smoke arise.
Soon as Aurora, daughter of the dawn, With rosy lustre streaked the dewy lawn; Again the mournful crowds surround the
pyre, And quench with wine the yet remaining fire, The
snowy bones his friends and brothers place (With tears collected) in a golden vase ; The golden vase in purple palls they rolled Of softest texture, and inwrought with gold. Last o'er the urn the sacred earth they spread, And raised their tomb, memorial of the dead. (Strong guards and spies, till all their rites were done, Watched from the rising to the setting sun :) All Troy then moves to Priam's court again, A solem, silent, melancholy train : Assembled there, from pious toils they rest, And sadly shared the last sepulchral feast,
Such honours Ilion to her hero paid,
And peaceful slept the mighty Hector's shade.”
The sage and king, &c. Priam was accompanied in his journey to the tent of Achilles by Idæus the herald.
Hecuba, the mother of Hector, appears to take a melancholy pleasure in the thought that Hector descended free to the Stygian coast. "The Hell of the ancients was watered by the Styx. The deceased lingered on the Stygian shore—the banks of the Styx
a naked, wandering, melancholy ghost," till the rites of sepulture were paid, and then the judges of the dead sentenced him to the reward of the " deeds done in the body."
Helen was the wife of Menelaus, the Spartan king, Paris, the brother of Hector, enticed her to accompany him to Troy. To punish this act, the princes of Greece had invaded Troy. Helen's grief is very honourable to Hector--it describes that affectionate and gentle nature so dear to his parents, his wife, and his domestics.
Ulysses, king of Ithaca, was the niost accomplished of the Greeks who went to the siege of Troy. He is described by Homer to have been diffident though eloquent, not to have commanded admiration the moment he rose to speak, but by degrees to have charmed those who listened to him.
“ But when Ulysses rose, in thought profound,
His modest eyes he fixed upon the ground,
As one unskilled or dumb, he seemed to stand,
Nor raised his head, nor stretched his sceptred hand;
But, when he speaks, what elocution flows!
Soft as the fleeces of descending snows,
The copious accents fall with easy art ;
Melting they fall, and sink into the heart !
Wond'ring we hear, and fixed in deep surprise ;
Our ears refute the censure of our eyes."
On his return from Troy Ulysses fell under the displeasure of
Apollo. The men under his command had
On herds devoted to the god of Day. That is they had seized upon flocks reserved for the sacrifices
to Apollo. The god vindictive doomed them never to return to their country,—they were destined to perish by a series of accidents, and their commander was at length to be restored to his dominions. But he was shipwrecked in Orgygia, a supposed island of the Mediterranean, and for want of a ship to convey him away, was detained in the island seven years.
This island was the abode of Calypso, one of the Oceanides—children of the Ocean. Calypso loved Ulysses, and was grieved at his departure, which was effected by the decree of Jove, or Jupiter, who sent Mercury with the celestial message. In the fifth book of the Odyssey the passage may be found.
“ The god who mounts the winged winds
Fast to his feet the golden pinions binds,
That high through fields of air his fight sustain
O'er the wide earth, and o'er the boundless main.
He grasps the wand that causes sleep to fly,
Or in soft slumbers seals the wakeful eye :
Then shoots from heaten to high Pieria's steep,
And stoops incumbent on the rolling deep.
So watery fowl, that seek their fishy food,
With wings expanded o'er the foaming flood,
Now sailing smooth the level surface sweep,
Now dip their pinions in the briny deep.
Thus o'er the world of waters Hermes flew,
'Till now the distant island rose in view :
Then swift ascending from the azure wave,
He took the path that winded to the cave.
Large was the grot in which the nymph he found,
(The fair-haired nymph with every beauty crowned)
She sat and sung; the rocks resound her lays :
The cave was brightened with a rising blaze :
Cedar and frankincense, an odorous pile,
Flamed on the hearth, and wide perfumed the isle ;
While she with work and song the time divides,
And thro' the loom the golden shuttle guides.
Without the grot, a various sylvan scene
Appeared around, and groves of living green ;
Poplars and alders ever quivering played,
And nodding cypress formed a fragrant shade ;
On whose high branches, waving with the storm,
The birds of broadest wing their mansion form,
The chough, the sea-mew, the loquacious crow,
And scream aloft, and skim the deeps below.
Depending vines the shelving cavern screen,
With purple clusters blushing thro' the green.
Four limpid fountains from the clefts distil,
And every fountain pours a several rill,
In mazy windings wandering down the hill ;
Where blooming meads with vivid greens were crowned,
And glowing violets threw odours round.
A scene, where if a God should cast his sight,
A God might gaze and wonder with delight !
Joy touched the messenger of heaven; he stayed
Entranced, and all the blissful haunt surveyed.
Him entering in the cave, Calypso knew;
For powers celestial to each other's view
Stand still confest, though distant far they lie
To habitants of earth, or sea, or sky.
But sad Ulysses, by himself apart,
Poured the big sorrows of his swelling heart ;
All on the lonely shore he sat to weep,
And rolled his eyes around the restless deep;
Toward his loved coast he rolled his eyes in vain,
'Till dimmed with rising grief, they streamed again.
Now graceful seated on her shining throne,
To Hermes thus the nymph divine begun.
• God of the golden wand! on what behest
Arriv'st thou here, an unexpected guest?
Loved as thou art, thy free injunctions lay ;
'Tis mine, with joy and duty to obey,
Till now a stranger, in a happy hour
Approach and taste the dainties of my bower.'
Thus having spoke, the nymph the table spread,
(Ambrosial cates, with Nectar rosy-red)
Hermes the hospitable rites partook,
Divine refection! then recruited, spoke.
• What moved this journey from my native sky,
A Goddess asks, nor can a God deny :
Hear then the truth. By mighty Jove's command,
Unwilling, have I trod this pleasing land :
For who, self-moved, with weary wing would sweep
Such length of ocean and unmeasured deep:
A world of waters ! far from all the ways
Were men frequent, or sacred altars blaze ?
But to Jove's will submission we must pay ;
What power so great, to dare to disobey ?
A man, he says, a man resides with thee,
Of all his kind most worn with misery :
The Greeks (whose arms for nine long years employed
Their force on Ilion, in the tenth destroyed)
At length embarking in a luckless hour,
With conquest proud, incensed Minerva's power:
Hence on the guilty race her vengeance hurled
With storms pursued them through the liquid world.
There all his vessels sunk beneath the wave!
There all his dear companions found a grave!
Saved from the jaws of death by heaven's decree,
The tempest drove him to these shores and thee.
Him, Jove now orders to his native lands
Straight to dismiss ; so Destiny commands :
Impatient Fate his near return attends,
And calls him his country, and his friends.'
Even to her inmost soul the Goddess shook;
Then thus her anguish and her passion broke,
Ungracious Gods! with spite and envy curst !
So till your own etherial race the worst !
And is it now my turn, ye mighty powers !
Am I the envy of your blissful bowers ?
A man, an outcast to the storm and wave,
It was my crime to pity, and to save ;
When he who thunders rent his bark in twain,
And sunk his brave companions in the main.
Alone, abandoned, in mid-ocean tost,
The sport of winds, and driven from every coast,
Hither this man of miseries 1 led,
Received the friendless, and the hungry fed ;
Nay promised (vainly promised !) to bestow
Immortal life, exempt from age and wo.
• "Tis past; and Jove decrees he shall remove ;
Gods as we are, we are but slaves to Jove.
Go then he may ; (he must, if he ordain,
Try all those dangers, all those deeps again)
But never, never shall Calypso send
To toils like these, her husband and her friend.
What ships have I, what sailors to convey,
What oars to cut the long laborious way?
Yet, I'll direct the safest means to go :
That last advice is all I can bestow.'